D. Des Chene (goclenius) wrote,
D. Des Chene

Conventionally Bad Spelling

At Panda’s Thumb (scroll down to Comment #8803) I came across a nice respelling of “comeuppance”:
Yes, the Behe and Snoke paper should get its cummuppins. 
I think I like this better than the spelling sanctioned by dictionaries. Note that in keeping with English orthographical conventions the “short” vowels in the first two syllables are followed by doubled consonants. Even misspellings tend to follow those conventions. The misspeller knows how to spell the word so that it will be pronounced as he hears it. The speller’s pronunciation of the ending is /nz/, not /ns/ as the dictionary would have it, and so we get ‘ns’ and not ‘nce’ (or ‘nts’). It may be that the word is analyzed as the plural of a noun ‘cummuppin’, with ‘get his c.s’ plural on the model of ‘just deserts’.
Some “bad” spellers (roughly, educated people who nevertheless misspell quite a few words) have learned enough about spelling to produce plausible misspellings. English orthography, notoriously irregular, is yet regular enough for that.
The article I’ve linked to, by the way, is a detailed refutation of a paper (Behe & Snoke 2004) whose conclusion would imply that mutation and selection take much too long to account for certain biological features. The authors (Ian F. Musgrave, Steve Reuland, and Reed A. Cartwright) show that even granting some of the questionable assumptions made by Behe and Snoke, their own method of calculation shows that “the probability of small multi-residue features evolving is extremely high, given the types of organisms that Behe and Snoke’s model applies to”.
Reference: BEHE & SNOKE, “Simulating evolution by gene duplication of protein features that require multiple amino acid residues”, Protein science 2004. Prepublication abstract. The article itself is accessible only by subscription.

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